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Parliament debates sex ed opt-out, Trust Parents rally says "let parents choose"

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A petition with over 109,000 signatures forced a debate in the House of Commons on 25 February about proposals to revise relationships and sex education in schools, which will come into force from September 2020.

Despite a rally outside Parliament attended by over 100 people protesting the new proposals, Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced the final education guidelines on what will be taught in statutory relationships, sex and health lessons.

As part of the changes, all primary school children will learn about different kinds of families, relationships and sexual identities, including same-sex relationships and transgenderism. Secondary education will teach children about female genital mutilation (FGM), sexting, online sexual grooming, domestic violence and forced marriage, as well as further lessons on gay and transgender relationships.

Compulsory relationships and sex education

Previously, relationships education was never mandatory in primary school; now, school children will be taught about homosexual and transgender relationships before they leave primary school and head teachers will decide when but not whether to introduce these lessons.

Mr Hinds also laid out the rules regarding parental opt-out: children may be opted out of primary school lessons, but children themselves will have the right to opt themselves back into relationships and sex education from the age of 15, a year before the legal age of consent. Furthermore, in “exceptional circumstances”, headteachers may overrule parents’ wishes to opt their children out.

Parents’ rights

A rally organised by Christian Concern, entitled Trust Parents, was there to campaign on that very issue. Attended by over 100 people of various faiths and backgrounds, chants could be heard outside Parliament of “let parents choose” and “parents’ rights”.

Speaking to the crowds after the campaign, Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, thanked so many for coming, and for showing that “we care deeply for our children” by wanting parents to be the primary educators of their children rather than the state. Several speakers pointed out that under God, parents are responsible and best-placed to decide how their children are taught about relationships and sex education.

“Not a neutral concept”

Melanie Phillips pointed out in The Times, the new guidance allows no room for religious dissent and thus represents a direct attack on traditional Christians, Muslims and Jews.” She said:

“The origins of these divisive elements lie in the Equality Act 2010, which requires all public-sector bodies to “pay particular regard” to groups with a “protected characteristic”, such as sexual, gender or ethnic identity, and to “foster good relationships” with them. The impulse to spread tolerance and protect children from harm is commendable but this is not the primary aim of this policy. It is rather to impose the doctrine of equal sexual lifestyle choice.

“This doctrine is not a neutral concept. As a direct attack on normative morality, it is an ideology that schools have no business imposing on pupils. It usurps the right of parents to inculcate their children into their own values. And it upsets many traditional parents who want to teach their children the cultural norms of traditional marriage or that the division between the two sexes is immutable.”

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